Long gone are the days of settling for bulky T-shirts and bland, blinged out, afterthought attire for women who want to represent their favorite sports teams. The founders of Team Couture, Cassandra Johnson and Audrey Tolson saw a need in the market for sports merchandising options that appeal to the fashion-forward female sports enthusiast. Johnson is an operations executive with 20 years of experience who has worked across many industries such as public utility, retail service industry, engineering, supply chain, and customer service. Tolson is a practicing attorney and trial lawyer with 20 years of experience specializing in medical malpractice. She owns a law firm in Atlanta, Georgia and first worked under the late attorney Johnny Cochran. As former college roommates and graduates of Georgia Tech, they are redefining the game of sports merchandising with brilliance and poise as they also juggle full-time careers.
The sports merchandising industry generates more than $12 billion annually. These forward-thinking entrepreneurs are certainly moving in the right direction. Forbes contributor Steve Olenski recently covered a story on “The Power Of Global Sports Brand Merchandising” and cited “the most powerful brand ambassadors in the world: women.” You can request your team on their website customized with your school or team logo.
BlackEnterprise.com: What’s the vision for Team Couture and when did you get started with the business?
Team Couture: The Team Couture collection consists of an array of fashion forward styles. The collection embraces and reflects a sophisticated and understated style for the fashion conscious fan and supporter. Team Couture is indeed the offspring of the perfect marriage between the likes of a Nike and Burberry.
Johnson started a previous line TIG:MIR greek apparel to meet the needs of fashion forward high end Greek apparel. She built up clientele and customers started asking about colleges. She knew it would take more than her to launch a new segment and Tolson also had an interest in fashion. Johnson presented the business opportunity about three years ago and the rest is history. They invested their own cash, learned from the shortfalls of the previous line, and sought lots of customer feedback. They were able to leverage the relationship with their manufacturer to get initial samples created fast. They hit the ground running with research and rolled up their sleeves to learn the collegiate merchandising industry.
How were you all able to break into the sports merchandising market? And how difficult or easy was the process?
The process was very difficult but when you love something you’ll do it even when it’s not easy. It’s a long, tedious process applying to individual organizations for the license that you want to use. We had to target an initial list of schools first which was Georgia Tech (our alma mater) and the University of Georgia. To request your school, please submit your team on our Website. It’s also been a challenge because we have weaved this business into our existing careers. We want to leave a legacy for our children. They may not want to take the traditional route and go into corporate America or join a law firm so we want to provide them options. Everyone has an affinity for a team so it’s something that our kids can relate to and something we can leave behind for them.
Find out more about their business journey on page two …